Recent clashes between Pahang and Johor have been exciting to say the least, fans will hope that this Friday’s clash between the two teams will produce another memorable encounter
Miswan - Stewart - Rehman – Roslan
Gopinathan - Kamal – Azidan – Akil
F. Roslan - Conti
Johor Darul Takzim
Norazlan bin Razali
Jasuli - Baihakki - Aidil Zafuan - Fazly
Rahim - Shakir
Amri Yahyah – Aimar - Azwan Roya
In this clash just over a year ago, it was Pahang who came back from a two goal deficit to shock their expensively assembled hosts 3-2, with stirring performances from Roslan, Surendran and Gopinathan. However later in the year Johor were able to exact revenge against the Elephants, dumping them out of the semi-finals of the Malaysia FA Cup on away goals. With these back and forth contests in mind, the latest clash between these two teams could well produce more memorable moments.
The home team are currently feeling good about themselves once again after producing a mature performance in last Saturday’s win at LionsXII, overcoming the fortress that is Jalan Besar. This victory was all the more welcome considering their poor recent league form, which saw them crash to consecutive 1-0 defeats against Sime Darby and Selangor. Although the Malaysian Super League is only three games old, the Elephants cannot afford another loss here if they do want to mount a serious title challenge.
Azidan Sarudin has been one of the more impressive players for Pahang so far this season, and it was he who got the winner in the LionsXII clash. He will take on the titanic task of stopping mercurial Argentinian import Pablo Aimar in this game, how well he carries out this task will surely be one of the biggest factors in his team getting a result.
Pahang, who have been strangely goal shy in the early stages of the season will look to welcome back tricky winger R. Surendren and import striker Dickson Nwakaeme to boost an attack which has only one goal in three league games. However manager Ron Smith may well resist the temptation to start both players considering their recent injury issues, and the performance of the team without them last weekend.
For Johor, it too has been a rocky start to the season. They were expected to sweep all teams aside after their off season splurge in the transfer market, but so far this season they fell to a poor defeat at T-Team and threw away a two goal lead in the second half at home to LionsXII.
For the Southern Tigers the form of their attacking players have not been the issue, with Aimar, Nurul Azwan Roya, Amri Yahyah, Safiq Rahim and Luciano Figueroa enjoying bright starts to the season. The worry is the form of a defence who despite boasting numerous international players, have looked shaky in recent matches, with Baihakki Khaizan and Aidil Zafuan particularly culpable.
With so many talented players on the field, the hope is that events off the field do not sour what should be an exciting match. The Pahang home tie in the FA Cup semi-final between these two teams last year was postponed after 40,000 fans packed into the 35,000-capacity Darul Makmur Stadium stadium. While more recently the main headline in Malaysian football has been the postponement of Johor’s FA Cup second round match with T-Team, a story which looks set to run and run.